What Time is the Kentucky Derby?

What Time is the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is one of the most prestigious and iconic horse racing events in the world. Held annually at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, the Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, which also includes the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. The race has captured the hearts and imaginations of horse racing enthusiasts, sports fans, and casual observers alike for over a century, thanks to its rich history, pageantry, and the electrifying atmosphere that surrounds the event.

History of the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby has a long and storied history, dating back to 1875 when it was first held at Churchill Downs. The race was founded by Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., the grandson of explorer William Clark, who was inspired by the success of the Epsom Derby in England. Over the years, the Kentucky Derby has become a beloved American tradition, with generations of families and fans gathering to witness the excitement of the race.

Date and Time of the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is typically held on the first Saturday in May, though the exact date can vary slightly from year to year. In 2023, the Kentucky Derby is scheduled to take place on May 6th. The race itself is usually run in the late afternoon, with the post time for the Kentucky Derby typically around 6:30 PM Eastern Time (ET).

Schedule of Events for the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is more than just a single race – it’s a multi-day event that features a variety of activities and festivities. The schedule of events typically includes:

  • Thursday: Opening ceremonies, including the annual Pegasus Parade
  • Friday: Kentucky Oaks, a prestigious race for female horses
  • Saturday: Kentucky Derby day, with the main race taking place in the late afternoon

In addition to the races, there are also various parties, concerts, and other entertainment options throughout the weekend.

How to Watch the Kentucky Derby

There are several ways to watch the Kentucky Derby, depending on your location and preferences. The race is broadcast nationally on NBC, with coverage typically beginning in the early afternoon and continuing through the running of the Kentucky Derby. Additionally, many local and regional television stations may also provide coverage of the event.

If you can’t watch the race on TV, you can also stream the Kentucky Derby online through various platforms, such as the NBC Sports app or website. Many horse racing enthusiasts also enjoy watching the race at their local off-track betting (OTB) facility or at a sports bar or other venue that offers live coverage of the event.

Popular Traditions and Customs at the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is steeped in tradition and custom, with many iconic elements that have become synonymous with the event. Some of the most well-known traditions include:

  • Wearing elaborate hats and fascinators
  • Sipping on the signature mint julep cocktail
  • Singing “My Old Kentucky Home” as the horses make their way to the starting gate
  • Watching the “Run for the Roses,” with the winner receiving a blanket of red roses

These traditions, along with the pageantry and excitement of the race itself, contribute to the unique and unforgettable experience of attending the Kentucky Derby.

Famous Horses and Jockeys of the Kentucky Derby

Over the years, the Kentucky Derby has been home to some of the most legendary horses and jockeys in the sport of horse racing. Some of the most famous include:

  • Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner who set a still-standing track record at the Kentucky Derby
  • American Pharoah, the 2015 Triple Crown champion
  • jockey Eddie Arcaro, who holds the record for the most Kentucky Derby wins with five
  • jockey Bill Shoemaker, who holds the record for the most Kentucky Derby rides with 26

These iconic figures have cemented their place in the rich history of the Kentucky Derby, and their legacies continue to inspire and captivate horse racing fans around the world.

Kentucky Derby Betting and Odds

Betting on the Kentucky Derby is a beloved tradition for many fans, with a wide range of wagering options available. From simple win, place, and show bets to more complex exotic bets like exactas and trifectas, there are plenty of ways to get in on the action. The odds for the Kentucky Derby can fluctuate leading up to the race, with factors like the horses’ past performances, jockey changes, and track conditions all playing a role in the odds.

Whether you’re a seasoned bettor or a first-time Kentucky Derby participant, it’s important to do your research and understand the various betting options before placing your wagers. Remember, responsible gambling is key, and it’s important to never bet more than you can afford to lose.

Fashion and Style at the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is not just about the horses and the racing – it’s also a celebration of fashion and style. Attendees are encouraged to dress in their best, with women often wearing elaborate hats and fascinators, and men donning dapper suits and ties. The infield at Churchill Downs is particularly known for its vibrant and creative fashion displays, with revelers showcasing their most eye-catching and unique outfits.

While the Kentucky Derby is a prestigious event, the dress code is generally more relaxed than some other high-profile horse races. The focus is on having fun, expressing your personal style, and enjoying the unique atmosphere of the event.

If you’re planning to attend the Kentucky Derby, be sure to start planning your outfit and making any necessary travel arrangements well in advance. The event is incredibly popular, so it’s important to book your tickets and accommodations as early as possible to ensure you have the best possible experience.


The Kentucky Derby is a truly one-of-a-kind event that has captivated audiences for over a century. From its rich history and iconic traditions to the excitement of the race itself, the Kentucky Derby is a must-see event for any horse racing fan or sports enthusiast. Whether you’re watching from the comfort of your own home or attending the event in person, the Kentucky Derby is sure to leave a lasting impression and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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